Waggy Races

Today i took part in
Waggy Races
Which is a 5 k or 3 miles roughly event where you can run, walk or jog with your dog. It is organised by a couple and their dog Zola :). This is only the second event they have held.

The race was £15 to enter, but they had teamed up with guide dogs too so there was an option to donate £1 up to £10 when you signed up. Guide dogs also had some little capes that a dog could wear and some badges and leads for a suggested donation today itself as well, but i’m getting ahead of myself.

I got the train to Central station today which got me in at about a quarter to 10. I met a puppywalker there who i hang about with quite a lot. Her pup didn’t want to be a guide dog so she kept her. Ushi associates the puppywalker with free running so she was hugely excited when she saw her.

We arrived at Tullymore forest which was where the race was being held at about 10 to 11 ish. Tullymore is near new castle in county down.

There were hundreds of dogs. Well there were 181 participants as we were the last to go and we had our race numbers and wrist bands on. There might have been more dogs as some people had more than one dog. The runners were released first, then the joggers, then us the walkers. There were only about 12 people walking as most of the entrants seemed to be jogging or running. I didn’t know that when someone runs with their dog they wear a harness that attaches to the runners waist and if either of them fall, the harness will release so that nobody gets hurt.

Before we set off, we visited the guide dogs stand where i tried on the head of the dog suit we have for fundraising. It was so hot and claustrophobic. The community fundraiser had the whole thing on but she had to take it off since all the dogs were over surrounding her lol. They must have thought it was a cudley toy lol!

After that, it was our turn to go. I was a bit worried as the puppywalker was in a different lane, so she was meant to go after me, but she walked beside me which was good. Of course after we started, miss Ushi decided she needed a poo stop. Right after the starting line. Thankfully nobody else was coming behind us lol.

The first part of the route was through a field which wasn’t too bad, but there were some parts when we were in the forest part. We had to kind of hoik ourselves up some bits as they were like big major tree routes and bits that sort of went up and down a hill. Kind of a hump, i suppose you would call it.

A map of the route is
So you can see where exactly we went. Most of it was good, but some parts were challenging.

We finished in about an hour, which is slightly longer than when i do my parkrun :). My Ushi worked the whole thing and was fabulous. She did play up a little after we had done one of the harder parts, but soon got back on track. What was interesting was that Ritzie, the puppywalkers pup walked nicely the whole way, as long as she could be beside Ushi. It made me sad that she didn’t want to work seeing her with Ushi in harness.

There was a sign at one point for a water stop for the dogs. It was a little stream. There must be a spring that runs down from the morn mountains.

The event was extremely well organised with poo bags and buckets to put your used poo bags in at every kilometre or so. There were marshils at every kilometre as well as bright orange signs to show people where to go. There was also a vet on standby and a doctor for the humans. There was water at the end for the doggies and humans, as well as big basins of water if the dogs fancied a paddle which Ushi and Ritzie didn’t. They also had goody bags for the dogs which were kindly donated by Jollyes Pet stores. There was a royhide crockadile, a 10 percent off voucher from Jollyes, two packets of chews, a packet of 10 poo bags and a grooming guide from a place called Tidy tails. There were also prizes given out. Me and Ushi got one because we were the only guide dog team there :). I got a thing called a “Buff” which says waggy races on it. It is like a Snood which is like a scarf type wrist band type neck protector thingie. Ushi got a gigantic dog cooky from a local dog bakery. It’s about the size of a medium plate i would say! So she can have a piece every day as i’d be worried that she would gorge herself if i gave her the whole thing.

While we were waiting for the prizes, we all sat on the grass to chill and catch our breath. I took Ushi’s harness off and she started to play with Ritzie. It was full on playing too so we just lengthened their leads and let them have a rump as it was quite challenging for them, well Ushi anyway since she was guiding.

I would like to thank the organisers Neil and Ruth for organising the event so well. It was fantastic and a lot of work must have gone in to it. And thank you for supporting guide dogs!

Afterwards we went to a nice caffe called the Belvadeer where i had Steak and veg pie with mashed potatoes.

We took the girls to a place called the giants ring after but they were both tuckered out.

It was a fabulous day and i would like to thank the puppywalker and her husband for doing such an excellent job guiding me on the tricky parts. Ushi is pure cream crackered now :).

In To The Wilds

Do you ever just get the urge to write but all your thoughts just come rushing out about a post and you don’t know how to put it in to words? Let’s try and put this in to some sort of perspective. Unfortunately i don’t have pictures, so i shall try and write as descriptively as i can.

growing wild

When i was growing up, we used to take our first dog Lady out for a walk. Even though we lived beside a big green that eventually led to the river, we would go out on many a weekend to what is now known as
The Ecos Centre
Anyway it was a short walk from where we used to live. I was no age at all. We’d all go and take the dog for a walk as a family.

The paths were very narrow and often the grass was up to my shoulders, but then again i was only a wee tote. There is a wooden bridge which we used to say trolls lived under. It was surrounded by farmland and sometimes our walks would have to be cut short due to there being a bull wondering about the paths.

I remember how mum would show me things and i remember her showing me the shell of a conker and i’d scream because i didn’t like the feel of it often frightening roaming rabbits.

One thing that used to really scare me as a child was when scramblers would ride on the paths. I hated the noise of them as they came up towards us and we’d have to stand to the side to let them past. Thankfully that is against the law now to do that.

There is this little stoney part where if it’s dry you can go down to the water. We used to call it the beach.

Nobody ever came to cut the trees or the grass, or fix the paths. It was very much left to the wilds as it were. That is up until about 5 or 6 years ago.

The Ecos Environmental centre, or the Millennium Environmental centre

It must have been in 2000 when the work started to make all that land and space in to something. Thus was born, The ecos centre. This fabulous new building worth a good few million quid which is apparently there to teach children about conserving energy. Ironically enough, the building is not powered by rennewable energy…but by good old fashioned callar gass heating, and electricity. It has solar pannels and a windmill that never works. So it’s a bit hipocritical.

All that aside though, it is still a lovely place. It is home to our local parkrun and a good many birds. It is also home to our local fireworks display at Halloween, but that’s always a bit of a flop as it’s over in like 20 minutes. Plus we can see it from out window, evern though we are at the opposite end of the town now. It was better when our local army barrocks used to hold a display but it isn’t used any more now at all.

The centre did used to be good-it has little tractors and diggers for young kids as well as a park with swings etc. It used to have a zip line but i think it broke.

It’s just a shame that it isn’t powered naturally like it should be.

In a way i miss those wild days and narrow paths but i’m not sure it would work now.

Daily Prompt:Autumn Leaves

Given that my blog seems a bit short on readers possibly, i decided to write something on one of the
Daily prompts
That wordpress uses to help when you’ve hit a rut. The post is all about the changes in season.

Personally, i start to dread the longer nights. I do not do well at all with cold. The cold i don’t mind too much, but the ice and snow i really can’t stand. Everything grinds to a halt, and it gets much harder to get out and do things. That in turn has an affect on your mood as if you’re anything like me, you like to keep busy. Thankfully though, when it does get icey, i have a pair of yaktrax which are the best thing since sliced bread, as i would say. You hardly know there is ice at all, unless of course you forget to take them off when you go inside anywhere and you end up sliding all over the show.

Another thing i hate about Winter is the increase in bugs and sicknesses. I am a bit of a germaphobe so get rather worried about catching something.

So what does everyone else think about the changes from summer to winter?.

Skiing and Cycling and Sailing, Oh My!

Today the blind sports network were holding an activity day for blind and partially sighted people to come and try out some new sports. The blind sports network seem to be part of Disability sports Northern Ireland. The day was for all ages.

There was a coach put on by the blind sports network to take people from Lergan bus or train station to the Ski centre in Cregavon. /cregavon is very hard to get to unless you have a car as the nearist train station to there seems to be Lergan or Portadown. Unfortunately it was only me and my friend Paul plus two volunteers who used it so i felt that it was maybe a waist of money and would have thought more people would have used it.

Anyway we got to the ski centre at about 10 o’clock. We first of all got on our ski boots. Boy were they hard to get on. They looked a bit like an ice skating boot if anyone has ever seen one of them, only there were clips up the side of the boots. You had to put the clips on the loosest setting otherwise you would end up hurting yourself. Before we got our boots on, we had to get weighed and measured so they could make sure we were given the right types of skis for our weight and so that the right amount of pressure would be on the skis. Who knew that would be part of a sport lol!

After all that was taken care of, we headed outside on to the dry ski slope. We had to wear gloves and i learnt that i should have put on thicker socks as you really feel the boot against your shins if you’re not careful. Even though it was a dry ski slope, if you fell on the slope, you could badly burn yourself as it is like the texture of a yard brush that you’re skiing on. Walking in the boots was really hard because they were so tight. I had to get Ushi to slow down because walking with her was quite hard.

Next, we were shown our skis. They looked like wooden planks that were maybe a foot wide. They were about an arms length long. They had a clip in the middle where the toe of your boot would go. You would then have to press your foot down with your heel until it clicked in to place. The skis were designed like a safety stirrup where if you fell, you would then be released from the ski to stop you from hurting yourself more.

Each person was then given an individual instructor. The guy who worked with me was called Stuart. We first of all practiced on some very flat ground with just one ski on to see how we would find it. We had to practice stepping and turning around by stepping. I must say i felt very clumsy so we tried two skis one on each foot next to see if that was any better. Unfortunately i still felt very clumsy. I compared it to ice skating where you kind of have to slid along rather than shuffling. I think it helps me anyway because i am holding on to something when i ice skate but when you’re skiing, you can’t really do that.

We then went up the slope as all beginner skiiers start at the bottom of the slope. When you are going up the slope, you have to make your skis tilt on their sides, so you don’t slide back down the slope again. You then have to make sure that your skis are straight and that they don’t cross over and that they remain parallel. So quite a lot to take in. You then have to walk with your knees bent to get a full on slide going on. I can’t remember why this is lol. So we slid a couple of times which was fun, but i still felt as if my hands needed to be holding on to something.

We were on the slope for about an hour, but it didn’t feel that long. You have to trust the skis, trust the instructors, and trust the ground. There is quite a lot to remember and it takes quite a lot of concentration.

What made it all worth while though, was that Kelly Galagher was waiting for me at the end of my session. She is a gold medal athlete from here. I love the way northern iresh people don’t let fame go to their heads though as she just seemed normal. She helped out with some of the kids sessions too as there were kids and adults taking part. What a relief to get those ski boots off though!

After that, it was time for a few rounds of golf. I was debating taking part, as i played golf at school and always found it to be an old mans sport lol. But i decided to give it a go anyway. I got quite a few shots, but struggled with keeping the club straight. It was good craic none the less.

After that, everyone was starving so we headed over to the watersports centre because the caffe there was quieter. I had a sausage roll and chips and a coke whilst catching up with a lot of people from school who i hadn’t seen in a while.

After that, we headed out on a tandum. I was with Stuart again so that was cool. We cycled a 5 k route, which turned out to be the local parkrun route. I jokingly said to one of the volunteers who had Ushi that they should go round it all and time it so that i could add that as a freedom run and cheat a little lol. It took us about 25 minutes to cycle around the whole course. The bike was needing a good dose of oil though as it was rather squeaky. I always find that when i am on a tandum, it feels like we’re constantly going down hill, although we aren’t all the time.

I forgot to say that before Lunch, we went up one of the bigger slopes without skis, to do some snow Tubing. This is where you sit in a big rubber ring. It has a reinforced bottom. You sit with your feet hanging over the edge and hold on to the handles. It was great craic as you zoom down the slope. A lot less hard work than skiing lol.

Finally, it was time to relax with some sailing at the end of the day. I always find sailing very relaxing so it was a lovely way to end a busy day.

I would like to thank disability sports and the blind sports network first of all for organising such a good event. It was very well organised and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I would also like to thank the instructors who taught us today, and Kelly gallagher for coming along and being so helpful, and to Sandra who was on dog duty today and she loved it.

The company Halfords had sponsored the event, so we got reflective vests at the end which was nice and useful, especially as my newist coat that i have is jet black apparently.

It was a brilliant day and my favourite events would have to be the snow tubing and the sailing.

No doubt i’ll feel the skiing in the morning lol.

Manchester Dogs Home Fire

When i read about this on Thursday night, I was utterly shocked. What would make someone think to set fire to a dogs home. Apparently at least 60 dogs were killed in the fire, and many more badly injured. A lot of rescues near by have had to take in some of the dogs who have survived. This will probably have a knock on effect as resources in these places are stretched enough as it is.

The manchester evening news have set up a just giving page and the donations have just been pouring in.

Here is a more detailed article from
The house of dog
Or @Thehouseofdog on twitter.

I tried to post the main article but i can’t find a way to share it directly with my blog. The house of dog article is
And it gives details of how you can donate anything you can and spread the word. My heart goes out to all the people involved in the rescue and who are still helping these poor poor dogs.

I don’t normally post this kind of thing, and sorry it is a bit disjointed, but please please help if you can. Every little helps as they say. Some people can be so very cruel :(.

Pay It Forward

Do you ever get those times when you just have to write down something because you’re just so blown away? Well tonight was one of those nights.

I had decided to call in to a pub called Robbonsons tonight for my dinner before my yoga. Normally i would get something in great victoria street station but all the restaurants in there were starting to close so i popped across the street to Robbonsons. There were these Canadian tourists in front of me. They read the menu to me and asked me what i would like. I said a sheperds pie and they said i could join them outside. I went to hand them money and they were like “we’ve paid for your dinner”. I could have been knocked down with a feather. Of course i thanked them perfusely and asked them if they needed money. They insisted they didn’t. I somehow felt i was taking advantage of them and told them this but they said they didn’t think i was. When i asked them why they did it, they told me it was because they liked staying here so much that they wanted to do something kind and told me to pay it forward sometime.

Now before i go any further, i wasn’t expecting any of this at all. I had my own money with me after all. I was just so blown away by their kindness and generosity. They hadn’t even met me until then.

Their kindness didn’t stop there though. They came over to check on me every few minutes and introduced themselves to me each time they talked. They even asked if i needed help out of the place or not.

I was just so very humbled by their gesture and it totally made my day.

So thank you Catherin and Ian, i will certainly pay it forward. Some people are just so kind.